Homosexuality and Seventh-day Adventism
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In Seventh-day Adventism, homosexual behavior is considered a violation of God's commandments, and as such is subject to church discipline. The Church is opposed to same-gender sexual practices and relationships on the grounds that "sexual intimacy belongs only within the marital relationship of a man and a woman." It believes the Bible consistently affirms the pattern of heterosexual monogamy, and all sexual relations outside the scope of spousal intimacy are contrary to God's original plan.
When a gay marriage bill came before the California legislature in April 2004, Adventist church members were urged to contact their representatives and voice their opposition. In "The Liberty Blog" the religious liberty director for the North American Division of the Adventist church argued against the proposed federal "Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007," suggesting it could have an indirect impact on free speech, would give special protection to some crime victims while failing to cover others, would be unnecessary since local laws already provide protection against hate crimes, and could lead to marginalizing those who oppose homosexual practice. In the September/October, 2004, issue of church periodical, Liberty, which was devoted to the issue of gay marriage, another religious liberty director called for the church not to remain silent in opposing gay rights.
Church statements regarding homosexuality
- "Seventh-day Adventist Position Statement on Homosexuality", voted 1999
- "Seventh-day Adventist Response to Same-Sex Unions--A Reaffirmation of Christian Marriage", voted 2004
- "A Statement of Concern on Sexual Behavior", voted 1987
- "Safeguarding Mission in Changing Social Environments", voted 2007
See also "An Affirmation of Marriage", voted 1996, and "Marriage and the Family", doctrine number 22 in Seventh-day Adventists Believe—A Biblical Exposition of 27 Fundamental Doctrines.
According to the Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual, one reason for church discipline includes, "Such violations as fornication, promiscuity, incest, homosexual practice, sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults, and other sexual perversions, and the remarriage of a divorced person, except of the spouse who has remained faithful to the marriage vow in a divorce for adultery or for sexual perversions."
The Seventh-day Adventist church was involved with Colin Cook's Homosexuals Anonymous in the 1980s. Lately some church publications have been supporting a ministry known as Coming out Ministries, run by a number of formlerly practicing homosexuals, including Michael Carducci and Wayne Blakely, who have now been celibate for a number of years, and a pastor who is now in a heterosexual marriage, Ron Woolsey.
On December 17, 2012, the Ugandan daily newspaper New Vision published an article reporting that the Adventist church president for East and Central Africa, Blaisious Ruguri, had delivered a speech at Mbarara SDA Church in which he declared that Adventists "fully" supported the government's "Anti-Homosexuality Bill" (which criminalized same-sex intimacy with lengthy prison terms and demanded the death penalty for repeat offenders. The article, which includes a photo of Ruguri standing alongside state MP Medard Bitekyerezo, quotes Ruguri saying:
- "Our stand is 'zero tolerance' to this vice and to western influence on this crucial issue because God says no to it. We are together with the President and the Speaker and we fully support the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. I call upon all religious ministers, all Ugandans, and all Africans to say no to Homosexuality. Let us stand for our sovereignty as Ugandans and as God fearing people even the heavens fall."
On December 19, the president of Kinship International, Yolanda Elliott, sent a letter to Adventist world church president, Ted Wilson, and to the church's public relations officer, Garret Caldwell, that read in part:
- "Through Pr. Ruguri’s statements and the Adventist church’s continued membership in the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda, the church is now justifying the prosecution, imprisonment, and potential execution of Ugandan LGBT people and their families. As Adventists, and regardless of the church’s statements on human sexuality, we believe that the Seventh-day Adventist church should never stand for the violation of basic human rights. The recent End It Now campaign is just the latest example of our church’s track record of standing against violence and abuse. Because of that track record, we do not accept that one of the church’s top-ranking leaders can support legalized violence against a minority group or use the pulpits and authority of the worldwide church to do so."
On December 21, the Adventist News Network in Silver Spring, Maryland issued a press release saying that the New Vision article did not "convey an accurate representation of his [Ruguri's] intentions or the voted position of the church regarding homosexuality." The ANN article quoted Ruguri declaring he had no knowledge of the contents of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill and that the newspaper had misrepresented his actual views:
- "It is unfortunate that the media took the liberty to extend my statements to suggest what I did not say or imply. I have never seen that bill. Mine was a general statement to disapprove of homosexual practice and behavior. Our church is a ministry of mercy, and as a minister in the Seventh-day Adventist Church I cannot condemn homosexuals to death or to hell."
Jamaican Adventist Politicians and Criminalization of Homosexuality
In July 2012, Human Rights Watch sent a letter to Jamaica's newly elected Prime Minister, Portia Simpson-Miller, urging her to take stronger action than her predecessors to protect the basic human rights of homosexuals in the country. According to HRW, in the eight years since its 2004 report, "Hated to Death: Homophobia, Violence, and Jamaica's HIV/AIDs Epidemic," "attacks on homosexual people or people perceived as being homosexual or transgender appear to remain commonplace." Jamaica is widely described by rights organizations as among the most dangerous places in the world to be a homosexual, with the authorities often turning a blind eye to assaults and murders of gays, lesbians, and their allies. With more than a quarter of a million Seventh-day Adventists, Jamaica also has among the highest percentages of Adventists of any country in the world. Approximately 10% of all Jamaicans are Adventist. Numerous Adventists have served in prominent positions in government.
In a November 2011 interview with a Jamaican newspaper, The Gleaner, Seventh-day Adventist and then-Prime Minister Andrew Holness rejected calls from Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron that he repeal Jamaica's "anti-buggery" laws, which criminalize same-sex intimacy with jail times of up to 10 years. Holness served as Prime Minister of Jamaica from October 2011 until January 2012, when he was succeeded by Simpson-Miller.
During the 2011 election debates, Holness and Simpson-Miller were both asked whether they would be willing to include homosexuals in their cabinets. Simpson-Miller replied that "Our administration believes in protecting human rights of all Jamaicans. No one should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation...people should be appointed to positions based on their ability to manage." Holness, by contrast, made clear that he would not permit homosexuals to serve in his government as long as the public remained hostile to gay rights. "My sentiments reflect the sentiments of the country," he said. "The prime minister has a discretion, but that discretion can not be exercised in a vacuum."
In August 2013, the Jamaica Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists published an article on its website under the heading "Same-sex marriage is not a human rights issue", stating that the Adventist Church in Jamaica has "been very strident in its opposition of any softening or repealing of the buggery law."
Another prominent Jamaican Adventist politician who has spoken against gay rights is Governor-General Sir Patrick Allen. In a November 2012 address, he urged his countrymen to follow the example of the biblical prophet Nehemiah, who demonstrated "zero tolerance of corruption and determined action to stamp it out." Allen lamented "a significant change for the worse...what is referred to as the ‘new norm.' The trend began with the banning of prayer in schools and later, in state institutions in the former bastion of Christianity, the USA, under the banner of freedom of religion." He continued, "There is mounting pressure on states such as Jamaica to recognize specific rights for lesbians and gays, with even threat of withholding financial assistance from those who do not." According to Allen, however, "there is nothing wrong with Jamaica which cannot be fixed by what is right with Jamaica."
Some within the "progressive Adventist" subculture, although not others, support homosexuality.
A book Christianity And Homosexuality - Some Seventh-day Adventist Perspectives edited by Ferguson Guy and Larson was published in 2007, covering a range of issues and perspectives.
A group and website, "Adventists Against Prop 8", formed to resist California Proposition 8, an amendment to the constitution of California which limits marriage to just between a man and a woman in the state, which was passed in 2008. A film, Seventh-Gay Adventists made by a wife-husband pair, and was motivated by the debate around Proposition 8.
- Annual Council of the General Conference Executive Committee (October 3, 1999). "Position Statement on Homosexuality". Seventh-day Adventist Church Statements. Retrieved 2012-04-06.
- http://www.religiousliberty.info/blog/index.php?paged=3, June 28, 2007
- Barry Bussey, "Why Silence is Not an Option," Liberty, September–October, 2004
- Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual, page 194
- Adventist Review, July 19, 2012Coming Out Ministries web page
- Turyakira, Fred. "SDA church speaks out on Anti-Homosexuality Bill". New Vision Daily Newspaper. Retrieved December 17, 2012.
- Elliott, Yolanda. "Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International Responds to Ruguri Statement". Adventistonline.com. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
- ANN Staff. "Ruguri Says He's Against Proposed Ugandan Legislation Regarding Gays, Lesbians". Adventist News Network. Retrieved December 21, 2012.
- Human Rights Watch. "Hated to Death". Retrieved November 16, 2004.
- Human Rights Watch. "Letter to Prime Minister Simpson-Miller". Retrieved July 18, 2012.
- Coke, Nigel. "In Jamaica, Visually Impaired Adventist Appointed Senate President". Adventist News Network. Retrieved May 23, 2013.
- Daraine, Luton. "Not Ready for Gays". The Gleaner. Retrieved November 6, 2011.
- Gill, Jeff. "Andrew Holness vs. Portia Simpson-Miller: The Homosexual dilemma in Jamaica, during election debates 2011". Trivester News. Retrieved December 27, 2011.
- Coke, Nigel. "Same-sex marriage is not a human rights issue". August 7, 2013.
- Allen, Patrick. "Address by His Excellency the Most Honorable Sir Patrick Allen". Website of the Governor General of Jamaica. Retrieved November 6, 2012.
- Furgeson, Guy and Larson. "Christianity and Homosexuality". Retrieved 8 August 2012.
- "Adventists Against Prop 8" website
- Seventh-Gay Adventists official website, by Daneen Akers and Stephen Eyer. Daneen Akers, "An Update on Seventh-Gay Adventists", Spectrum blog, 1st March 2012
- Vance, Laura L. (1999). Seventh-Day Adventism in crisis: gender and sectarian change in an emerging religion. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. pp. 160–171. ISBN 0-252-02434-6.
- Drumm, Renee D. (July 2011). "Gay and Lesbian Seventh-day Adventists: Strategies and Outcomes of Resisting Homosexuality". Who Cares? A Newsletter for Caring Pastors and Educators (Online: Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International) 1 (3). Retrieved Feb 11, 2012.
- "Dilemmas of a Homosexual" by Wayne Blakely. Adventist Today website, posted September 7, 2009[dead link]
- Adventists and homosexuality part one and part two, from ReligiousTolerance.org
- Marriage, Homosexuality and the Church special report, from the Adventist Review